State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BNSL) will raise Rs 15,000 crore through sovereign-backed bonds this year to fund its restructuring and revival between January and February this year, senior DoT officials said.
“We have already written to the Ministry of Finance. They have some issues of guarantee space and all that. As soon as they give us the clearance, we will do it in January or February if we get the nod. Probably BSNL with either do it alone, or do it for both BSNL and MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited),” the officials said.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has left it to both the companies to decide how to raise the monies, and take a final call in consultation with experts, one of the officials quoted above said.
Apart from the bond, BSNL is also looking to raise nearly 300-400 crore by selling or leasing out land-parcels to organisations like Central Board of Secondary Education, Immigration Department, among others. MTNL, on the other hand, is in talks with the Income Tax to lease out its land, the officials said.
“They have already identified certain assets, which they have sent to DIPAM (Department of Investment and Public Asset Management). A meeting has been held. We are progressing on that,” one official said.
To turn the EBITDA (earnings before interest taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) of the combined entity of MTNL-BSNL positive, both entities have also been undertaking cost-cutting measures. A final call on the fate of over 92,000 employees of MTNL and BSNL, who have opted for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), will be taken by the end of January, another senior government official said.
“BSNL wage bill will reduce by about 50 per cent. MTNL, it will reduce by about 75 per cent. Their annual expenditure, which was coming to about Rs 1,300 crore every month, will come down to about Rs 600 crore or Rs 650 crore, which is a substantive reduction. Their revenues are looking up slightly. We should be able to climb back to positive EBITDA,” the official said.
The Centre had last October approved a Rs 69,000-crore restructuring and revival plan for BSNL-MTNL, which included merging the two, selling their assets, and allowing all employees to opt for VRS. A major chunk of the package was kept aside for salaries and the final payout to employees of both organisations who opted for VRS.
The aim of the restructuring plan is to turn the combined entity profitable in the next two years. Other than the land parcel sale for this fiscal, both BSNL and MTNL plan to monetise other assets worth nearly Rs 38,000 crore over the next two years.
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